Instead of simply homing in on one specific musical coordinate, saxophonist Matt Garrison decided to widen his focus and hit a few different targets with his third album. The aptly-titled Patchwork finds him looking toward "initial musical influence, educational influences, and current outcomes." It's a collection of Garrison's personalized yesterday-meets-today musical scenarios.
It's hard to know whether Patchwork should be defined as a vocal record with strong instrumental appeal or an instrumental album with a vocalist out front on the majority of the material; in all truth, it's better not to define it at all. Garrison simply delivers a balanced program of originals and covers that highlights his wide-ranging interests, arranging and composing skills, and saxophone work. He shares the spotlight on most of the material with vocalist Melissa Morgan
("Ceora"), but it all works for one simple reason: Garrison's eclecticism is matched by his ability to weave disparate elements together. Garrison addresses a balance between dark and light on "How Can I Be Sure?," tackles Don McLean's "Vincent" in loyal-yet-revitalized fashion, and delivers a wind-textured "Ceora." Melissa Morgan sits out on occasion, as on the cheery and solo-filled "Steppin' Up (And Steppin' Around") and the easy-waltzing "Open To Your Advances," but she's the focal point on much of this material. Garrison proves to be a monster player, whether cooking on soprano ("How Can I Be Sure?") or oozing soul on tenor ("When Eyes Meet"), but he's not an attention hog; plenty of other players, from pianist Nial Djuliarso